100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Ruan Thai

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Every couple of years, a Thai restaurant arrives to contend for the title of area’s best. Many shine bright for a year or two, dazzling with their blending of spice, lime, and herbs, then sputter and fade. Which makes us appreciate this mainstay, now in its 15th year, that much more.

It still excites—with delicate salads (the Yum Watercress—a lacy frittata of deep-fried watercress, shrimp, squid, onions, and cashews—is one of the great dishes in the area), vivid curries, and magnificent whole fried fish. Few Thai kitchens are as skilled in such a variety of preparations; there isn’t a weak category on the multi-page menu. Don’t miss: Fried-squid salad with cashews; larb (ground chicken with lime and shallots); mu ping (barbecue pork); crispy duck with basil and chilies; yellow curry with pork. Open: Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner. Inexpensive.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.